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Morocco v Portugal & France v England: Aaron Ashley's World Cup betting tips

The World Cup is reaching boiling point and England are still in the hunt to be crowned champions as they prepare for Saturday's quarter-final clash with holders France.

The winner of that last-eight tie will face either Morocco or Portugal in the semi-finals and the Three Lions are 11/10 to qualify, with Les Bleus slightly favoured at 8/11.

Morocco stunned Spain with a penalty shootout success in their quarter-final and they are 12/5 to keep the dream run going by qualifying at Portugal's expense.

However after their 6-1 quarter-final romp against Switzerland, the Portuguese are strongly fancied at 1/3 to seal their spot in the last four.

Racing Post's Aaron Ashley has his say on the two quarter-final epics and discusses where the value may lie.

Three Lions may have been underestimated

What: England v France, World Cup quarter-final
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: 19:00, Saturday 10th December 2022
How to watch: ITV1
Odds: England 2/1, Draw 9/4, France 7/5

England and France have both eased into the quarter-final of the World Cup in Qatar, but the Three Lions may have been a shade underestimated against the reigning champions.

Gareth Southgate's side have sometimes taken time to hit top stride in their matches but they remain unbeaten after four games, scoring 12 goals and conceding only twice.

There has been no goal before the 35-minute mark in any of England's World Cup assignments, but when they do get going there are few attacking units to match them.

Also, since their frantic 6-2 win over Iran in their opening assignment, England have steadied the ship defensively with clean sheets against the USA, Wales and Senegal - although none of those sides are close to the quality of the French.

Keeping Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud quiet is a different test for England, but they may hold the edge in the midfield area, while the French defence is one that can be targeted.

Mbappe and Giroud have scored eight of France's nine tournament goals between them and their involvement is likely to have a big say on the outcome of this match.

Les Bleus' wins in Qatar have come against Australia, Denmark and Poland, while they were beaten 1-0 by Tunisia when relying on their second-string to see the group stage out.

France still await their first clean sheet of the tournament too and, in fact, have conceded in nine of their last 10 matches.

The midfield partnership of Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot is going to be posed serious questions from the likes of Jude Bellingham and they could also be vulnerable to England's pace on the counter-attack.

At 2/1 to win in 90 minutes, Euro 2020 runners-up England must be of consideration, but perhaps the 11/10 To Qualify could be the best way to get involved.

Given how England likes to keep things tight early doors, backing No Goal Before 31:00 at 5/6 is another way to get involved.

The Three Lions are yet to see a goal that early in their four games in Qatar, while it took 44 minutes for a breakthrough in France's win over Poland last time out. Les Bleus' games against Tunisia and Denmark were also goalless at half-time.

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Portugal's persistent pressure should pay off

What: Morocco v Portugal, World Cup quarter-final
Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
When: 15:00, Saturday 10th December 2022
How to watch: ITV1
Odds: Morocco 9/2, Draw 5/2, Portugal 7/10

Morocco became only the fourth African country in history to make the World Cup quarter-finals when stunning Spain on penalties, but their success could come to an end against Portugal.

The Atlas Lions stood firm for 120 minutes in a goalless draw with Spain, before goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was the hero as he saved two spot-kicks and saw another cannon off the post.

La Roja found it difficult to create many clear-cut chances against a well-organised Morocco side that have now kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight matches.

There was no fluke in their ability to frustrate their high-class opponents either as they also topped Group F, taking seven points from meetings with Canada, Croatia and Belgium. 

Walid Regragui's side were also able to keep out Croatia and Belgium, so will not be shying away from this challenge.

The main concern is that Portugal are growing into the competition and appear to be going from strength to strength.

Fernando Santos' men won their opening two games against Ghana and Uruguay before opting to ring the changes in what effectively was a dead-rubber with South Korea.

However, Portugal responded to that setback with an emphatic 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last-16, which came despite the manager opting to drop talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench. 

Ronaldo's replacement, Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos, rewarded Santos's faith with a hat-trick and will surely retain his place. He is 9/4 to add to his tally.

But it's difficult to see Portugal running riot again given Morocco's style of play, but they should see plenty of the ball and at 7/10 their constant pressure is expected to pay off with a win in normal time.

Morocco are unbeaten in nine games so should offer plenty of resistance and under 2.5 goals looks a solid proposition given it has landed in six of their last eight games.

That makes Portugal To Win & Under 2.5 Goals the way to go at 5/2, meaning a 1-0 or 2-0 at bettors will be rewarded.

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